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August 2005
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2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP

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The Good:  Great exterior looks with contoured shapes.  Nice engine and exhaust growl.  Firmer Bilstein suspension.  Heads-Up display.  Only $24,600 after the employee discount price plan.

The Bad:  Tight fitting interior.  Seating is not comfortable.  Power difficult to control due to front wheel drive.  Low legroom in rear. 

If you can say one thing about Pontiac cars, it has to be that they have style.  For 2006, the Pontiac Grand Prix lineup includes the well-equipped Grand Prix, the sporty Grand Prix GT and the Grand Prix GXP, which we test here.  The performance enhanced GXP model offers more exterior styling, more horsepower, better suspension and brakes, and most of all, more fun. 

            The Grand Prix GXP offers the newest 5.3 Liter V-8 engine with Displacement on Demand technology.  Being the most powerful front wheel drive car in America, the GXP has 303 horsepower available and 323 lb.-ft. of torque.  We tested zero to sixty times of 5.62 seconds.  Add to this unique suspension tuning which lowers the GXP approximately 9 mm.  Bilstein high quality German struts with higher rate springs, as well as a 17.2 mm hollow rear stabilizer bar are fitted to the GXP.  You will immediately notice the red colored brake calipers as well as the yellow colored struts making this performance machine stand out from the crowd.  A Bosch four channel ABS system is standard providing superior braking.  Also unique are 18-inch polished forded aluminum wheels.

GXP-specific body enhancements complement the car's aggressive stance.  Exterior styling is modern and powerful.  The front end flows with a grille similar to that in the upcoming Solstice as well as a faceted front hood panel.  Multi beam front headlamps, fog lamps, and air dam lamps all give the GXP a powerful look. The curved and flowing appearance extends to the rear in a coupe like fashion, flaring out the rear fender for a sportier appearance.  From the rear, a wing on the trunk lid hints that this car is sporty.  Four large muffler outlets fitted nicely in a modern bumper suggests power under the hood.  We think that Pontiac should have lowered the wheel gap even more for a more sporty appearance, but overall, the exterior of the Pontiac Grand Prix GXP is smooth and flowing. 

The interior of the GXP is what you have come to expect from Pontiac.  While the upgraded GXP trim gives you ultralux suede like microfiber seat inner portions, brushed aluminum trim on the instrument cluster, and brushed aluminum door sill plates, there is still much lacking inside this GM vehicle.  The doors and dash are made of hard plastic.  Most switches are bulbous and dated in style, made of hard plastic.  The center console is tilted towards the driver for a cockpit appearance.  The steering wheel is large for the interior space, but has sporty thick grips at two and ten o'clock.  Two paddles on the steering wheel allow you to change gears when in sport driving mode. 

We found the low roofline reminiscent of a coupe.  This cut down on the feeling of space inside the Grand Prix GXP.  We did not like the large dash coming into the cabin, combined with the raked front windshield.  The steering wheel is too large for this interior, and it cannot be moved away from the driver, therefore the GXP is made mainly for tall people.  If we moved our seat back to be the proper distance from the steering wheel, it was difficult to push the floor pedals, which cannot be moved in this GM model. 

Front seats are quite large so rear seat passengers do not have much legroom or much of a view facing forward. Rear seats are deep and feel nicely made.  Rear doors swing open 82 degrees, the most in the segment, but we usually found the front seats intruding into the rear cabin so moving them forward and then fitting wide items is the way to go.  Standard 60/40 split folding rear seats allow you to carry even larger and longer items in the already cavernous trunk.  GM really needs to put in a floor system in the trunk to hold objects in place as digging way deep into this large space is difficult for small items that move around.  Items as long as 9 feet can be accommodated with the trunk closed when the optional fold-flat front passenger seat is folded flat. 

The doors are still lacking a good feeling while seated inside the GXP.  Hard plastic bottom portions with sprayed dots as a pattern was just ugly.  Upper paneling on the doors is somewhat better using a mix of materials.  Window switches are still very cheap.  It is strange how GM vehicles put good technology, and some good parts and mix them with old parts to cover the interiors of their cars.  The roof lining is done in modern fabric with modern lighting switches, and seats offer a suede like inner portion with contrasting stitching; very different from the rest of the car which is typical old GM. 

The GM heads up display is available on many models and is a very useful feature.  It shows a digital speed-reading in the windshield so you do not have to look down away from the road.  It can also show stereo selection, gear selection, and automatically changes after a selection is made.  A control button allows you to change what is displayed and the brightness of the display.  We also liked the trip computer with G force readings as well on the center dashboard.  The stereo system is good and featured XM satellite radio.  The climate controls are easy to understand, lacking automatic temperature setting however.  The system is loud in its high setting even with the massive array of in high setting and the numerous big air vents up front were not liked by many on our staff. 

            Our driving experience behind the wheel of the GXP was mixed and fun, after all, you do have fun driving anything with over 300 horsepower.  Press hard on the pedal and a great exhaust growl surges you forward, but look out, you hardly have any steering control, so you just hope that the car goes straight and then soon enough you end up having some steering feel as you approach high speeds. Seats are a bit low in the proper driving position and you cannot see out the windshield very well.  If you sit very high the roof is much too close to you.  Pedal feel is hard and the feeling that you need to be closer is always present.  But the in your face steering wheel is just a bit too large and un-adjustable for comfort.  We did not ever notice the cylinder on demand system switch between all or partial banks of cylinders.  Our average miles per gallon was also much lower than the city average stated on the window sticker, obtaining only 16.5 miles per gallon.

A high-performance Hydra-Matic 4T65-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission was strengthened to handle the prodigious torque of the 5.3L V-8.  TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) is standard with the GXP and combines the fun and control of a manual transmission, but with the convenience of an automatic transmission, using two paddles on the steering wheel.  While we did not get the hang of the system as easily as in other cars where one side is down and the other up, it was a fun feature to have. 

Suspension is good; body sway is light but evident.  Bounce is quite low due to the great Bilstein struts.  The overall feel of the car is still that of a big car.  The Magnasteer II system does not do a good job of conveying the road, something which only BMW has done effectively to date.  Brakes are strong but not as amazing as we would have liked.  Tires and wheels are a large P255/45R18 in front and P225/50R18 in the rear with W speed ratings, getting them to screech and squeal is quite easy with the power up front.

Standard on the GXP is GM's StabiliTrak which greatly improves vehicle control with a series of sophisticated sensors that maintain vehicle direction by independently applying brake force at the appropriate corners of the car.  StabiliTrak monitors differences between the driver's desired path and the vehicle's actual path and then takes preventive measures to maintain the desired path.  StabiliTrak greatly reduces the possibility of oversteer or understeer which is greatly appreciated in this front wheel drive car.  StabiliTrak is integrated with the vehicle's ABS and traction control system as well offering a total package as found in other cars in this price range.  Standard are dual stage front air bags as well as a tire inflation monitor. 

The Grand Prix GXP starts off at a base price of $29,335.  Added to this was the leather package on our car with heated driver and front passenger seats as well as ultralux suede inserts in all seats for $665.  XM satellite radio was optional for $325 as well as the very useful remote vehicle starter for $150.  Current deep discounts would take about $6,000 off the price of this car.  

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 26,579 28,735
Destination 660 660
PCQ  Premium Pkg GT, GXP  Include Dual-Zone Automatic Air Conditioning & Heated Front Seats.
Base Includes All Models Equipment Plus Leather Surfaced Seat Trim.
GT Includes All Models Equipment Plus Flat Fold Passenger's Seat & Leather Surfaced Seat Trim.
GTP Includes All Models Equipment Plus Flat Fold Passenger's Seat & Leather & Suede Seat Trim.
842 1,015
Sun & Sound Pkg  Includes AM/FM Stereo w/6-Disc CD Changer, Monsoon Speakers & Power Sun Roof. 904 1,090
AY1 Restraint System, F&R Side Impact Air Bag  GT, GXP 327 395

 

  2006 Pontiac Grand Prix
GXP 4dr Sedan (5.3L 8cyl 4A)
2006 Chrysler 300
C 4dr Sedan (5.7L 8cyl 5A)
2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
AWD 4dr Sedan w/Silver-Painted Wheels (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
2005 Nissan Maxima
3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2005 Lexus IS 300
E-Shift 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
MSRP $28,735 $33,425 $32,445 $27,500 $31,105
Invoice $26,580 $30,923 $30,263 $25,146 $27,372
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V8 V8 flat 4 V6 inline 6
Base Engine Displacement 5.3 liters 5.7 liters 2.5 liters 3.5 liters 3.0 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 303 hp @ 5600 rpm 340 hp @ 5000 rpm 300 hp @ 6000 rpm 265 hp @ 5800 rpm 215 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque 323 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 390 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 300 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 255 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 218 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm
Driven Wheels front wheel drive rear wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive rear wheel drive
Tires P225/50WR18
performance
P225/60HR18
performance
P225/45WR17
performance
P245/45VR18
all season
P215/45ZR17
performance
Wheels polished alloy rims
18 x 7.0 in.
chrome alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
painted alloy rims
17 x 8.0 in.
alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
Front Air Conditioning air conditioning automatic climate control automatic climate control automatic climate control automatic climate control
Front Air Conditioning Zones single dual single dual single
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Xenon Headlights Not Available Optional Standard Optional Standard
Navigation System DVD navigation system - Optional CD navigation system - Optional Not Available DVD navigation system - Optional DVD navigation system - Optional
Turning Circle 37.4 ft. 38.9 ft. 35.4 ft. 40 ft. 34.1 ft.
Hauling Grand Prix 300 Impreza WRX STi Maxima IS 300
Max. Cargo Capacity 57 cu. ft. 16 cu. ft. 11 cu. ft. Being Researched 10 cu. ft.
City 15 mpg 17 mpg. 18 mpg. 20 mpg. 18 mpg.
Highway 20 mpg 25 mpg. 24 mpg. 28 mpg. 24 mpg.
Length 198.3 in. 196.8 in. 173.8 in. 193.5 in. 176.6 in.
Width 71.6 in. 74.1 in. 68.5 in. 71.7 in. 67.9 in.
Height 55.9 in. 58.4 in. 56.3 in. 58.3 in. 55.5 in.
Weight 3600 lbs. 4066 lbs. 3298 lbs. 3432 lbs. 3285 lbs.
Wheel Base 110.5 in. 120 in. 100 in. 111.2 in. 105.1 in.
Front Headroom 38.8 in. 38.7 in. 38.6 in. 39.7 in. 39.1 in.
Rear Headroom 36.2 in. 38 in. 36.7 in. 37.1 in. 37.7 in.
Front Shoulder Room 58 in. 59.4 in. 52.7 in. 57.9 in. 52.6 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 54.8 in. 57.7 in. 52.9 in. 56.5 in. 53.5 in.
Front Hip Room 54.5 in. 55.9 in. 53.3 in. 53.5 in. 52.8 in.
Rear Hip Room 54.3 in. 55.9 in. 51.9 in. 54.8 in. 53.9 in.
Front Leg Room 42.2 in. 41.8 in. 42.9 in. 43.6 in. 42.7 in.
Rear Leg Room 36.2 in. 40.2 in. 33 in. 36.5 in. 30.2 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 16 cu.ft. 15.6 cu.ft. 11 cu.ft. 15.5 cu.ft. 10.1 cu.ft.

 

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